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Europe must raise scientific standards in every nation

The president of the Max Planck Society argues that German reunification has lessons for how to help EU countries where science is weak.

In 2000, the EU’s Lisbon Strategy set Europe the goal of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economic area in the world within 10 years. Each member state was charged with spending 3 per cent of GDP on R&D. While a few member states have achieved this, the countries of eastern and southern Europe still invest just 1.5 per cent or less of their GDP in R&D.

This impairs the quality and competitiveness of their research. After five rounds of European Research Council starting grants, which help outstanding young researchers to form their own groups, just 55 of 2,538 awards, or 2 per cent, have gone to member states in eastern Europe.

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